Robert Goodman Accountants Blog

Did you know that if you're aged between 60 and 64, you can access your super if you change jobs – without retiring permanently? The rules about when you can access your super on "retirement" grounds vary depending on your age. Find out exactly what's required for your age group.

Recently, AMP reported that its superannuation support team has seen a surge in questions about the rules for accessing super. It says people are especially unaware about the retirement rules that apply in the 60-to-64 age range. Here, we break down the requirements by age group and clarify what you must do to "retire" and access your benefits.

Under preservation age

Before you've reached your preservation age, you can't access super on any "retirement" grounds. Your preservation age depends on your date of birth, as shown below:

Date of birth Preservation age
Before 1 July 1960 55
1 July 1960 – 30 June 1961 56
1 July 1961 – 30 June 1962 57
1 July 1962 – 30 June 1963 58
1 July 1963 – 30 June 1964 59
From 1 July 1964 60

If you need to access your super before preservation age, speak to your adviser about whether you might qualify on other grounds such as severe financial hardship, compassionate grounds, terminal medical condition or permanent or temporary incapacity.

Preservation age to age 59

Once you've reached preservation age you can potentially access your benefits on "retirement" grounds, but if you're under 60 you must have the intention of permanently retiring. Specifically, two things need to occur:

  • an arrangement under which you were gainfully employed must come to an end (eg you leave a job); and
  • the trustee of your super fund must be reasonably satisfied that you intend never to again become gainfully employed (either on a full-time or part-time basis).

For these purposes, "part-time" gainful employment means at least 10 hours a week. This means you can "retire" even if you intend to work a small amount each week.

If you don't meet the retirement test, but need to access some of your benefits, consider starting a "transition to retirement income stream" (TRIS). The only eligibility requirement is that you've reached preservation age. However, you'll be limited to withdrawing a maximum of 10% of your account balance each financial year, and you won't qualify for an income tax exemption on pension asset earnings. Once you've met a release ground such as retirement or reaching age 65, these restrictions will no longer apply.

Age 60 to 64

Once you reach age 60, you can potentially access your super without permanently retiring (although you can, of course, retire permanently if you choose).

All that's required is that an arrangement under which you were gainfully employed comes to an end (eg you leave a job) after you reached age 60.

That means it's okay to start another job, or if you were previously working two jobs, it's sufficient that you leave only one of them. In these cases, you can access a full pension (with an income tax exemption on pension asset earnings, and no 10% maximum annual withdrawal limit) or a lump sum.

Importantly, the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) recognises that this is a valid way to access your super, but says that in its view, any future superannuation benefits you then accrue from an ongoing or new job wouldn't be accessible. To access those benefits, you'd need to meet a further release ground (eg reaching 65 years or "retiring" again).

Age 65 and over

Once you reach age 65, all of your superannuation benefits become accessible. There's no need to meet any "retirement" or other release grounds.

Need to access your super?

We can refer you to independent financial planners to guide you through the requirements for "retirement" and other release grounds, and help you withdraw your benefits in the most tax-effective way. Contact our office today on 3289 1700 or email reception@rgoodman.com.au. 

 © Copyright 2019. All rights reserved. Source: Thomson Reuters.  IMPORTANT: This communication is factual only and does not constitute financial advice. Please consult a licensed financial planner for advice tailored to your financial circumstances. Brought to you by Robert Goodman Accountants. 

This year's Productivity Commission inquiry into superannuation highlighted concerns that many Australians' super benefits are being eroded by fees and inappropriate insurance premiums.

The government has now passed laws to force superannuation funds to take action – in some cases by cancelling insurance policies or paying benefits over to the ATO for consolidation. While the reforms will undoubtedly benefit many Australians, some members who wish to prevent unwanted action on their account may need to take action.

The new laws broadly take effect from 1 July 2019 and apply to "MySuper" and choice products (eg retail and industry fund accounts), but don't apply to SMSF trustees or small APRA funds.

Fees reform

The new laws ban superannuation funds from charging exit fees when a member wants to leave the fund, making it easier for members to close and consolidate their super accounts.

For member account balances below $6,000, funds are also prohibited from charging annual administration and investment fees totalling more than 3% of the member's account balance.

Insurance changes

Currently, many funds offer insurance on a default "opt-out" basis. While insurance is beneficial to many Australians (eg for death, permanent disablement or income protection), the government is concerned that some members are signed up for inappropriate or multiple insurance policies (eg from having accounts across multiple superannuation funds) and their super is being eroded by the premiums deducted from their accounts. Members are sometimes not fully aware of the costs and benefits involved.

Under the new laws, funds may not provide insurance for members of accounts that have been "inactive" (ie have not received any contributions or rollovers) for at least 16 months, unless specifically directed by the member. This means many existing insurance policies will be cancelled from 1 July 2019.

Funds were supposed to contact potentially affected members by 1 May 2019, but all members should check for themselves by asking:

  • Do I have an "inactive" account? This commonly includes workers with one or more old accounts from a previous job, parents taking time out of the workforce to care for children and even SMSF members who also keep an old public offer account open just for the insurance coverage.
  • What insurance am I signed up to? How much am I paying annually in premiums, and what is the insured amount? Do I hold multiple policies for the same insurance?
  • Do I want to keep the insurance cover? Your needs are unique and depend on your own financial and personal circumstances. If in doubt, seek professional advice.

If you wish to keep the insurance policy, you must make an election in writing. Contact your fund if you're unsure how to do this. You can make an election before 1 July.

Consolidating inactive low-balance accounts

Inactive accounts with balances below $6,000 will be paid over to the ATO, who will then take action to consolidate the person's super into a single account (or pay the benefits to the member directly if they are old enough to qualify or, if the member has died, to their beneficiaries or estate).

Even if your low-balance account has not received any contributions or rollovers for 16 months, the account will not be deemed "inactive" if you have taken actions such as changing investment options, changing insurance coverage or making or amending a binding nomination. You can also elect in writing to the ATO not to be treated as an inactive account member.

Get your super in order

Now is a great time for superannuation members to take stock of their accounts and insurance arrangements. Contact us if you need assistance with any of the upcoming changes.

Call us at Robert Goodman Accountants on 07 3289 1700 or email us at reception@rgoodman.com.au.  © Copyright 2019. All rights reserved. Source: Thomson Reuters. Brought to you by Robert Goodman Accountants.  

Transferring a commercial property into an SMSF can be a great way to build retirement savings and take advantage of the concessionally taxed SMSF environment. But when acquiring property from a related party, it's vital the property meets the "business real property" test. Make sure you know the essential elements of this test when exploring this strategy.

Holding property in an SMSF can certainly have tax advantages. The rental income and capital gains are concessionally taxed, or even tax exempt to the extent the property supports retirement phase pensions. So, if you run a business and own your business premises, or are simply an investor with a commercial property, you may have thought about transferring the property into your SMSF.

The general rule is that SMSFs aren't permitted to acquire assets from a related party of the fund (which includes the members, their relatives and related trusts and companies). However, there are a few limited exceptions, including "business real property" (BRP) acquired by the SMSF at market value. This is the only type of real estate that an SMSF may acquire from a related party.

What is BRP?

BRP is property used "wholly and exclusively" in one or more businesses. The ATO says this generally means the entire area of the property must be used in business, and there should be no non-business use (eg personal use), unless it's a very minor or insignificant non-business use.

It doesn't matter who is conducting the business. Whether it's the property owners (eg the SMSF members or their related trust or company) who run the business, or an unrelated third party who rents the premises for their business, the property can still qualify as BRP.

Classic examples of BRP include a shop where a retail business is conducted, a factory where a manufacturing business is operated and office space leased solely to business tenants.

Farms can also qualify if they are used in a primary production business, and there's even a specific allowance for a residential area on the property of up to two hectares (provided the predominant use of the overall property is for the farming business and not residential use).

There are many other types of property that are not so straightforward. Whether a property meets the "BRP" definition depends on the particular facts of how it is used. The ATO provides the following examples of property that would not be BRP:

  • In many cases, residential rental premises. Many typical "Mum and Dad" investment property owners simply derive passive rental income and don't carry on a business. In contrast, if someone owns and rents out residential property as part of a large-scale property investment business, the land would potentially qualify as BRP.
  • Similarly, many holiday rental properties where the owners are passive investors who do not run a business of letting holiday accommodation. Even if the owners hire an agent to manage the property, it will not be BRP.
  • Mixed-use properties where there is business use but also non-business use that is more than minor. The ATO gives these examples of mixed-use properties that would not be BRP: a commercial warehouse where the landlord reserves 10% of the floor space for her own personal storage use, and a mechanic business run from a home garage attached to the mechanic's private dwelling.

Other considerations

Make sure you get professional advice before jumping in. Transferring BRP into an SMSF raises a number of tax and compliance issues:

  • The property must be acquired at market value.
  • Once the property is held in the SMSF, any lease to a related party must comply with the relevant superannuation laws.
  • You may have capital gains tax (CGT) and stamp duty liabilities when you transfer the property into the SMSF. Your tax adviser can help you determine whether you qualify for any small business CGT concessions.

Looking to get into property?

Contact us today to discuss a tax-effective SMSF strategy for your commercial property, in conjunction with your financial planner.

 © Copyright 2019. All rights reserved. Source: Thomson Reuters.  IMPORTANT: This communication is factual only and does not constitute financial advice. Please consult a licensed financial planner for advice tailored to your financial circumstances. Brought to you by Robert Goodman Accountants.  

Planning on going "back to school"? The costs can really add up, but the good news is that your course fees may be deductible if the course is sufficiently related to your current employment. In this first instalment of a two-part series, we explain when you can deduct your tuition fees for work-related education. Our second instalment will look at other expenses like textbooks, computers and travel.

What courses are eligible?

The first step is to work out whether the course you're studying entitles you to claim self-education deductions. Not all courses you study while you're working will be eligible.

Importantly, the course must lead to a formal qualification from a school, college, university or other educational institution. Courses offered by professional associations (as well as other work-related seminars, workshops and conferences) generally don't come under "self-education" for tax return purposes, but these course fees will often be deductible as "other work-related expenses" in a separate part of your tax return. Your tax adviser can help you determine how to claim these.

Second, there must be a sufficient connection between your formal course of study and your current income-earning activities.

This means the course must either maintain or improve the skills or knowledge you need for your current employment, or result in (or be likely to result in) an increase in your income from your current employment.

Therefore, a course that directly enables you to:

  • become more proficient in performing your current job;
  • move up to a new pay scale; or
  • be promoted to a higher-salary position with your current employer

is likely to be eligible.

However, the ATO says it's not sufficient if a course is only generally related to your job, or if it will help you to get employment or get new employment. The ATO gives the following as examples of study that would not be eligible:

  • An undergraduate student studying a course with the intention of working in that industry in future.
  • A worker studying in order to change industries, or to get a new type of job within the same organisation.
  • A professional like a general medical practitioner studying to become a specialist in a particular field of medicine.

When are course fees deductible?

If your course has the necessary connection to your current work as explained above, you can deduct course fees that are funded under the government's "FEE-HELP" or "VET FEE-HELP" loan programs. However, you can't deduct course fees funded under the "HECS-HELP" program.

You also can't deduct any repayments you make under any government loan scheme. This is best illustrated by an example:

Sarah is an employee who is also enrolled part-time in a course funded by a FEE-HELP loan. This course will help her improve skills needed in her current job. Her tuition fees for this financial year are $2,000. She can claim this $2,000 as a deduction in her tax return.

When she later makes repayments on her FEE-HELP loan (either compulsory or voluntary), those repayments will not be deductible.

If you're paying course fees yourself without any government assistance, you can claim a deduction and you can also claim the interest expenses on any loan you've privately taken out to finance this (eg a bank loan).

In many cases, taxpayers are required to reduce their total claim for self-education expenses by $250. This depends on what other self-education expenses you incur in the financial year. Your tax adviser can perform the necessary calculations to finalise your claim.

Get it right before you claim

Tertiary course fees can involve some large deductions. Talk to us today for expert advice on your eligibility and to ensure your claim will stand up to ATO scrutiny.

Call us at Robert Goodman Accountants on 07 3289 1700 or email us at reception@rgoodman.com.au.  © Copyright 2019. All rights reserved. Source: Thomson Reuters. Brought to you by Robert Goodman Accountants.  

If you have special car travel needs for work – like driving between two jobs or different worksites, or carrying bulky equipment – you may be able to claim deductions for some of your car expenses. Are you claiming everything you're entitled to? Find out what expenses you can deduct and how to correctly calculate your claim.

Car expense claims are one of the most popular deductions claimed by individuals at tax time each year, but the ATO says not everyone gets it right. Make sure you know the basic rules for when and how you can make a claim.

These rules apply to a car you own or lease that is designed to carry a load of less than one tonne and fewer than nine passengers. Motorcycles, bigger cars and cars hired intermittently (eg a car hired for a week) have different rules.

What car travel can I claim for?

Generally, you can't deduct costs of travelling between home and your regular workplace. However, you can claim for car travel between two different workplaces or between your home and an alternative workplace that is not your usual workplace (eg a client's premises).

You're also entitled to claim for travel if you need to drive your own car as part of your job. This might include:

  • delivering or collecting items for your employer (but not minor work tasks such as visiting the post office as part of your trip home);
  • attending work-related events like meetings or conferences; or
  • transporting bulky tools or equipment to work (eg an extension ladder) that your employer requires you to use on the job, provided there is no secure place to leave them at your workplace.

Calculating your claim

There are two methods for calculating your claim.

You're free to choose the method that best suits you, and you can choose different methods for different income years.

The simplest is the "cents per kilometre" method, which allows you to claim at a rate of 68 cents per kilometre travelled for work purposes (for 2018–2019). This rate is set by the ATO and is considered to reflect average operating costs, including depreciation. There are some key points to know about this method:

  • You can only claim a maximum of 5,000 kilometres each year, which equates to a maximum deduction of $3,400 (and averages to around 104 kilometres a week for someone working 48 weeks a year).
  • You don't need to keep any expense receipts.
  • However, you need to be able to demonstrate how you made a reasonable estimate of your work-related kilometres (for example, using a diary showing work trips you made). The ATO stresses that this is not a "standard" deduction and taxpayers must be able to prove their entitlement.

The alternative method is the "logbook method", which allows you to claim a percentage of your actual car expenses based on work use. This method requires more record-keeping, but may be worthwhile if it gives you a bigger deduction. You should note:

  • Your work-related percentage is your work-related kilometres as a proportion of total kilometres travelled. To calculate these figures, you must keep a logbook and odometer readings that must record certain information. Fortunately, once you've maintained a logbook for the required 12-week period, it's valid for five years (unless your work-related proportion significantly changes and this requires a new logbook to be started).
  • You also need to keep receipts to show your actual expenses, although petrol and oil costs can be based on either actual costs or a reasonable estimate based on odometer readings.
  • Expenses you can claim include running costs (fuel, servicing), registration, insurance and decline in value, but not capital costs.

Claim with confidence

Car expense deductions require careful record-keeping. In particular, getting your 12-week logbook right is essential to ensuring it remains valid for five years. We're here to help. Our expert team can check whether you're claiming your full entitlements and ensure your records will stack up in the event of an ATO audit.

Call us at Robert Goodman Accountants on 07 3289 1700 or email us at reception@rgoodman.com.au.  © Copyright 2019. All rights reserved. Source: Thomson Reuters. Brought to you by Robert Goodman Accountants.  

Have you ever considered joining a site like Airtasker to make some extra cash? If so, you'll need to keep the ATO happy. Here, we explain the tax issues that arise when you earn money performing "gigs" through Airtasker, or any other online platform that connects workers with third-party hirers looking for help with one-off tasks.

It's important to understand that these platforms are used by everyone from "moonlighters" making some extra dollars on top of their regular job, through to self-employed people running substantial businesses (eg tradespeople) who use these platforms to pick up extra clients. Certain tax issues like GST registration can therefore depend on the person's particular circumstances.

Is this money assessable income?

Yes, you must declare this income in your tax return. This means you must keep records of the amounts you earn.

If the platform charges you a fee or commission, you must declare the gross amount of income you earn. For example, if Sally earns $100 from a gardening gig and pays the platform a $15 service fee, she must declare the full $100 as income in her tax return.

However, you're entitled to claim relevant deductions, including platform fees and commissions. You may also be able to deduct other expenses you incur in generating the income, including equipment and some car expenses. If your expenses also entail some personal use, you'll only be able to claim a portion of the expenses. Your tax adviser can explain exactly what you're entitled to deduct and how to substantiate this. In the meantime, ensure you keep receipts of all expenses related to your gigs.

How does GST work?

If your annual turnover is $75,000 or more, you must register for GST. Below this threshold, registration is optional. Being registered for GST means:

  • You must report and remit GST of 10% to the ATO. This involves additional administration, and you'll need to take this into account when deciding what price you're willing to perform a "gig" for. Other workers you're competing against who aren't GST-registered may be willing to perform a gig at a lower price.
  • However, you can claim GST credits on the GST components of business expenses you incur, including the GST included in any platform fees. (Note that where you can claim a GST credit for an expense, you can only claim the GST-exclusive part of that expense as an income tax deduction in your annual tax return.)

If you're below the $75,000 threshold, seek advice from your adviser about whether GST registration would be worthwhile in your situation.

Do I need an ABN?

If you must register for GST (or wish to do this voluntarily), you'll need an ABN. But what if your turnover is below $75,000 and you don't want GST registration? While you're not legally required to have an ABN, there are downsides of not having one: in some cases, businesses who hire you may have to withhold tax at the top marginal rate from the payment if you don't provide an ABN.

Anyone who carries on an "enterprise" may apply for an ABN. Most gig platform users, as independent contractors performing services to make money, arguably carry on an enterprise. If you're only planning to use gig platforms very occasionally (or as part of a genuine "hobby" like photography or crafting, rather than to make a profit), talk to a tax adviser about your ABN needs.

More time earning, less time on tax!

Whether you're using gig platforms occasionally or as part of a significant business, let us handle all your tax issues. We offer expert advice and assistance with deductions, ABNs and GST, freeing you up to spend more time pursuing your income-earning opportunities.

Call us at Robert Goodman Accountants on 07 3289 1700 or email us at reception@rgoodman.com.au.  © Copyright 2019. All rights reserved. Source: Thomson Reuters. Brought to you by Robert Goodman Accountants.  

Will I qualify for the Age Pension?

Knowing whether you'll be entitled to the Age Pension is an important part of your retirement planning. Once you reach Age Pension age (66 years from 1 July 2019), you'll also need to pass two tests: the assets test and income test. Here we outline the basic thresholds that apply under each test and what types of assets and income sources are included.

Assets test

If you own your own home, to qualify for the full pension your "assets" must not be worth more than $258,500 (for singles) or $387,500 (for couples). For non-homeowners, these limits are $465,500 and $594,500.

Above these thresholds, you may qualify for a reduced pension. However, your entitlement to the pension ceases if your assets are worth more than $567,250 (for single homeowners) or $853,000 (for couples). For non-homeowners, these limits are $774,250 and $1,060,000.

So, what "assets" are included? All property holdings other than your principal home count, less any debt secured against the property.

There are also special rules for granny flat interests and retirement home contributions, so get advice before moving into these accommodation options.

Investments like shares, loans or cash accounts all count, as do your share in any net assets of a business you run and part of the market value of assets in companies or trusts you "control".

And once you reach Age Pension age, your superannuation is also included. This includes your accumulation account and most income stream accounts.

How you structure your investments could make a big difference. Consider the following tips:

  • If you sell your family home and put the proceeds towards another investment, that wealth will become subject to the assets test.
  • Withdrawing your super benefits (if, for example, you meet a condition of release) to pay more off your home mortgage, may improve your assets test position.
  • Be careful when "gifting" away assets, as those in excess of $10,000 in a financial year (or more than $30,000 across five years) will count towards the test.

However, before changing your asset structure you should ask if it makes financial sense to rely on the Age Pension? You may be better off generating a higher income from your investments.

Income test

If you earn up to $172 per fortnight as a single (or $304 as a couple), you can potentially receive the full pension. Above this, your pension entitlement will taper down, before ceasing at income of $2,024.40 per fortnight for singles and $3,096.40 for couples. A "Work Bonus" allows pensioners to earn up to $250 from employment per fortnight without it affecting their pension.

The income test is broad, including any gross amounts you earn from anywhere in the world, eg super income streams and a share of the income from any companies or trusts you "control".

Your income from certain financial assets is "deemed" at a certain rate. If your actual earnings from these investments exceed the deeming rate, the excess doesn't count towards the income test. The deeming rules apply to assets like listed shares and many super accounts.

Plan for a secure retirement

Contact us for advice on the most beneficial way to approach your income from super, the Age Pension and other investments to help you achieve the best retirement outcome.  We can refer you to the specialists to help plan for a secure retirement.  

 © Copyright 2019. All rights reserved. Source: Thomson Reuters.  IMPORTANT: This communication is factual only and does not constitute financial advice. Please consult a licensed financial planner, aged pension specialist or Centrelink Financial Information Officer for advice tailored to your financial circumstances about the aged pension. Brought to you by Robert Goodman Accountants. 

When you pass away, your superannuation benefits do not automatically form part of your estate. Instead, they're paid out by the trustee of your superannuation fund. So, what can you do to ensure your super is paid out in accordance with your wishes? For many people, a binding death benefit nomination (BDBN) is an appropriate safeguard to put in place.

How does a BDBN work?

If you don't make any nomination during your lifetime about how your super benefits should be paid on your death, the trustee has discretion to decide who will receive your benefits and in what form. Under superannuation law, your death benefits can be paid to either, or a combination, of:

  • your "legal personal representative" (LPR) – effectively, the executors of your estate (which means those superannuation benefits will then be dealt with by your will); and/or
  • one or more of your "dependants" directly, which include your spouse, children (of any age) and anyone with whom you were in an "interdependency relationship". 

Where the trustee decides to pay some benefits directly to a dependant, the trustee can also decide whether to pay your benefits as a lump sum or pension. The trustee has a lot of discretion! If you'd prefer to have certainty about how your benefits will be paid, consider making a BDBN.

This is a written direction given to the trustee specifying where your death benefits should be paid. Provided the BDBN is valid and still in effect when you die, the trustee is bound to follow it.

Making a valid BDBN

You should seek expert assistance when preparing a BDBN, especially if you're an SMSF member. Here we outline a few key principles to keep in mind.

First, the trustee can't follow a BDBN to the extent the payments would breach superannuation law. This means your BDBN can only specify the permitted recipients discussed above.

Second, for non-SMSFs, a BDBN must meet various requirements to be valid, such as being witnessed by two adult witnesses. For SMSFs, these requirements vary according to their deed.

Third, the BDBN must work in harmony with other relevant legal documentation. This includes:

  • The fund's deed (as mentioned above): the terms of SMSF deeds vary greatly. SMSF members must ensure their BDBN is permitted and valid under their fund's deed.
  • Pension documentation: if you're receiving a pension just before your death, any terms of the pension documentation that contradict your BDBN may cause legal uncertainty.
  • Your will: if your BDBN directs your benefits to your estate, your will can be tailored to ensure the benefits pass to specific beneficiaries in the most tax-effective manner.

Expiry dates

For non-SMSFs, a BDBN expires after three years. In an SMSF, a BDBN can potentially last indefinitely, but many SMSF deeds impose a three-year expiry anyway! In any event, it's good practice to review your BDBN every few years or whenever a major life change occurs.

Need to make a BDBN?

Contact your superannuation fund or financial planner or lawyer to make your binding death benefit nomination to ensure your wealth passes into the right hands, giving you maximum control and peace of mind.

 © Copyright 2019. All rights reserved. Source: Thomson Reuters.  IMPORTANT: This communication is factual only and does not constitute financial advice. Please consult a licensed financial planner for advice tailored to your financial circumstances. Brought to you by Robert Goodman Accountants. 

From 1 July 2019, Single Touch Payroll (STP) reporting will become mandatory for all employers. Small businesses (ie those with fewer than 20 employees) have previously been exempt, but will now need to take action to ensure they're ready. These small businesses have a three-month transition period between 1 July and 30 September to get their STP reporting fully operational.

STP is an electronic reporting system that requires employers to submit payroll information such as salaries, wages, allowances, PAYG withholding and superannuation contributions to the ATO directly through their payroll software (or third party service provider) when they pay their employees. The government says that STP reporting will improve the ATO's ability to monitor tax and super compliance, and to take action when required.

How does it work?

You'll still pay your staff according to your regular pay cycle (eg monthly or fortnightly), but with the added requirement of submitting payroll information electronically to the ATO each cycle.

Many businesses will take care of this in-house with payroll software that can connect to the ATO. Alternatively, you can arrange for a registered tax or BAS agent to report on your behalf.

You'll still give your staff a payslip each pay cycle, but you'll no longer need to prepare payment summaries at the end of the financial year because your staff will be able to access all of their STP payroll information through the ATO website in order to prepare their tax returns.

If your business has "closely held payees" such as family members who are not paid a regular salary or wage, talk to your adviser about flexible STP reporting arrangements that may be available to you.

Simple software solutions

There are many software providers in the market offering STP-compliant software that meets the ATO's requirements. If your business already has payroll software, check with your provider whether it has been made STP-compliant and whether you need an upgrade.

If you don't have existing software or you want to find a new solution, you should refer to the ATO's website for help finding a provider. As well as publishing a list of all commercially available STP software solutions that it has approved, the ATO has a separate list of "low-cost" ($10 or less per month) and "no-cost" STP solutions that have been designed for "micro" businesses with four or fewer employees.

These have been created by third-party software developers and are designed to take only minutes to complete each pay period. They don't require the employer to maintain the software and include formats like mobile apps, web-based portals, desktop software and other simple solutions. The ATO is continually updating the list as new products are released.

Need more time?

Small businesses can start reporting any time from 1 July 2019 to 30 September 2019. If you need more time to get ready, you can apply online for a deferred start date through the ATO's business portal. You can also apply for an exemption from STP reporting for one or more financial years if you operate in an area with poor or no internet.

Get STP-ready

Don't wait until the last minute – talk to us to get started now. No matter how small or large your business is, we can help you find the right solution to match your STP reporting needs and ensure you're ready for the deadline.

Call us at Robert Goodman Accountants on 07 3289 1700 or email us at reception@rgoodman.com.au.  © Copyright 2019. All rights reserved. Source: Thomson Reuters. Brought to you by Robert Goodman Accountants.  

How to be tax ready this year

How to be tax ready this year

The Australian Taxation Office is advising taxpayers that improvements to reporting requirements mean that some people may not receive a payment summary directly from their employer this financial year. This information, now referred to as an income statement, will continue to be pre-filled into people's income tax return or provided to their registered agent.

Assistant Commissioner Karen Foat said this is because many employers are now reporting wages, tax and super information to the ATO each payday.

"Around nine million Australians will be able to see their year-to-date salary and wages, PAYG withholding tax, and any employer super contributions in near real time," Ms Foat said.

"If you use a tax agent to lodge your return, you don't need to do anything. We provide your agent with this information and they can lodge your return as usual.

"Most employers have until 31 July 2019 to finalise their employees' income statements so, we strongly encourage taxpayers to wait a few weeks before lodging their tax return."

This also provides longer for other information such as from banks, health funds and government agencies to be pre-filled in your return as well, making the whole process easier.

"If you lodge your tax return before your income statement is tax ready, your employer might make changes, and you may need to lodge an amendment. In some cases, additional tax and interest may be payable," Ms Foat said.

Taxpayers who have linked their myGov accounts to ATO online services will receive a message when their income statement is tax ready, for agents this information will be available in pre-fill reports.

"We know from previous years that the early birds who lodge in the first weeks of July are far more likely to make mistakes or submit incomplete data. That's why we suggest waiting and letting the ATO do most of the work pre-filling your tax return," Ms Foat said.

The ATO is also warning taxpayers with multiple jobs to take extra care. Those with more than one job should wait until all their employers have reported to the ATO or provided a payment summary.

Private health insurance statement

Taxpayers with private health insurance should be aware that insurance providers are no longer required to provide statements to their members.

Previously, your health insurer was required to send a private health insurance statement to each adult covered by the policy by 15 July each year. It is now optional for them to send you this information.

If you lodge your tax return using a registered tax agent, your health insurance details should be pre-filled. If your health insurance details are not pre-filled or you lodge a paper tax return, you will need to contact your health insurer in order to get a private health insurance statement.

Call us at Robert Goodman Accountants on 07 3289 1700 or email us at reception@rgoodman.com.au.  Source: ATO 28 June 2019. Brought to you by Robert Goodman Accountants.